When it comes to backup power solutions, one of the most common questions I tend to hear is “can a solar generator power a house?”
Most single solar generator kit are not capable of powering a whole home, but multiple solar generators, or a custom DIY setup can help get the job done.
Most larger solar generators have the capacity to keep refrigerators, fans, and heaters running, but powering larger appliances such as an air conditioning system or water heater will require multiple generators or a custom built, large solar generator.
How Much Power You Really Need
Before you go out and start looking at solar generators, solar panels, and batteries to build your own solar generator, you first need to take into account how much power you will need from a generator.
This is going to vary from application to application as people with larger homes will have more items that they will need to charge up.
To get started, figure out which appliances you will want you solar generator to power and for how long. Once you have this list of appliances, you will need to research the amount of energy they are going to consume. You can do this by looking through your owner’s manual or simply giving the manufacturer a call.
Once you have this information, you can start looking at solar generators that are going to supply you with enough energy to power these appliances with a little extra wiggle room.
You will want this additional power as you do not want to constantly run your solar generator at maximum capacity. This will cause the solar generator to wear quicker and can significantly reduce the life of your generator.
Small Solar Generators (10-250 Watt)
Great for charging up small electronics such as cell phones, laptops, and small TVs to stay connected. These generators are often very lightweight and can be carried with you just about anywhere.
The Goal Zero 150W Solar Kit is a plug and play solution that includes everything you need to power your smaller house appliances, charge your phone, and things that don’t require a lot of power. For a Whole House you will be very limited in what you can use.
- Material: [Yeti 150] AGM lead-acid battery, [Nomad 14] monocrystalline
- Solar Panel Capacity: 14W (18-22V)
- Solar Panel Output: 14-22V, up to 1A (14W max)
- Battery Type: AGM lead-acid
- Battery Capacity: 150Wh, 14Ah (12V)
Medium Solar Generators (250-1000W)
For those who are wanting more electricity over a longer period of time, or just need to power something with more wattage demand, a solar generator in the 250-1000 watt range will be a great option.
These generators are usually easily transported by a single person or carried in tandem.
The ECO Worthy 600W Solar Generator Kit (click to read reviews on Amazon) is a 5 piece kit with everything you need to generate 600W.
With this one you can have more things and be completely off grid. Ideal for a small cabin or a whole house with low electric consumption.
- Combiner box 12/24V system automatic detectable, wrong battery pole connection protection, lightning protection
- Easy Installation with pre-drilled hole. By-Pass Diode minimized the impact of shade
- Panel dimensions:996*665*35mm(39.2″x26.2″x1.4″）
- Newest solar panel with 90% within 10 years and 80% within 25 years
Large Solar Generators (1000-10,000 Watt)
Larger solar generators are going to be ideal for powering homes on a larger scale as they are usually able to power larger appliances for extended periods of time.
There are many residential and commercial options available in this power range.
With the ECO LLC 1800W Home Grid (click to read reviews on Amazon), we enter in real off-grid power solutions.
This solar generator kit will be able to completely power a simple house, or significantly reduce your electric bills.
- Power Generation Plan—1.8 KW Solar Power Generates Average 7kWh of Electricity Per Day for Home.
- Flexible Use of Electricity—In Cloudy Days, When the Power Supply is Insufficient,Automatically Obtained Power from Your State Grid System to Supply Your Load.
- Solar Panel— Corrosion-resistant Aluminum Frame Allows the Panels to Use for Decades,As Well As withstand High Winds (2400Pa) and Snow Loads (5400Pa) Outdoors.
Ready Made Solar Kits
The best Solar generators that you can purchase as a ready made unit allow you to get an all in one generator that requires no assembly.
These generators are often offered with multiple charging methods – solar, wall outlet, car outlet.
They can be purchased with or without solar panels to give you the choice of running different panels and are a great way to dip your feet into solar electricity.
The best thing about these types of generators is that they are very user friendly.
You can simply charge them up and have them ready to go the next time you need them. When you are ready to use them, simply plug in your device into one of the many different outlets on the generator to get to charging.
Most generators are going to offer various outlets to allow you the freedom of plugging up just about any device you can imagine to them.
Ready made solar generators are often more expensive than building your own solar generator as the hard work is already done.
However, if your time is more important to you and you don’t mind manually charging or plugging in devices, they are a great tool to have.
DIY Solar Generators
If you are more of the DIY type of person or you simply want to build a permanent solar solution for your home’s electricity, this is going to be the way to go.
DIY solar generators require you to do more research on the type of solar panels you will need, what kind of wiring is required, how many batteries you will want, and how you can integrate it into your home’s electricity.
How To Connect A Solar Generator To Your Home
When it comes to connecting your solar generator to your home, you have a couple of different options that will be dependent on which style of solar generator you decide to go with.
You can build your own solar generator that can connect to your home’s electricity or purchase a ready made solar generator that you can plug appliances into manually.
Let’s take a look at ways to connect your home using each method.
The first thing you will want to do is to install solar panels on your roof.
This can be done by a professional, or by yourself with a DIY kit.
Secondly, decide if you are going to be using your solar electricity for backup energy or as a home electricity replacement.
This will determine whether or not you will need batteries or not. If you are using your solar electricity for backup only, no batteries will be needed.
Next, install a power inverter to convert the solar energy into usable home electricity. You will need to connect the solar panels to the power inverter and then into the home grid.
For use with batteries, connect the inverter to the battery and then to the home grid.
After that, install the wiring from the battery to your circuit breaker and electrical shunt. Transport DC current to you inverter.
The purpose of the shunt and breaker is to prevent overload on the system.
Connect the inverter to the AC fuse box in the home. Connect the AC generator the inverter to allow you to switch back to regular power if you deplete your solar power.
This is important if you have weeks of reduced sunshine.
What Size Solar Panels To Pick
When it comes to buying solar panels for your solar generator, the size and quantity are going to be dependant on how many appliances your will be charging and what their overall wattage demand is.
You will also need to take into consideration the location that you are going to put the panels in as larger panels may not fit on some roofs.
Solar panels come in all types of shapes and sizes depending on the application and the manufacturer.
Once you find out how much wattage you are going to need, you can start to look for the correct size for your needs.
Some larger solar panels may supply you with enough wattage to power your appliances, but most of the time, you are going to need to multiple solar panels of lower outputs to achieve the needed power.
I suggest looking at various sizes and their output of energy to determine which sizes work best for you.
The location of where your solar panels will be placed will also be a determining factor of what size solar panels you need. For example, if you are wanting to install your solar panels on your house, you will need to measure out the size of your roof and figure out what the best configuration of solar panels would be for your application.
For those using ready-made solar generators, follow the manufacturer’s suggestions on the preferred solar panel size.
This will give you a few different options that are compatible with your specific kit.
Solar Panel Suggestion
Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Panel
- Maximum Power: 100W
- Maximum System Voltage: 600V DC (UL)
- Optimum Operating Voltage (Vmp): 18.9V
- Open-Circuit Voltage (Voc): 22.5V
- Optimum Operating Current (Imp): 5.29A
- Short-Circuit Current (Isc): 5.75A
- Weight: 16.5lbs
- Dimensions: 47.3 X 21.3 X 1.4 In
What Type Of Batteries You Should Use
When it comes to solar generators, you are going to need a place to store your energy.
This is where the batteries are going to come in. Batteries can store your solar energy to be used whenever you need it. Depending on your application, you may need more or less batteries to satisfy your wattage demands.
It is important to calculate how much battery storage you will need as you do not want too many or not enough. Having too many batteries will cost you unnecessary money while not enough batteries will cause quicker solar energy drains.
To figure out what type of batteries you need and what size you need, you first need to calculate your wattage usage.
This is easily done by figuring out which appliances will be powered by the solar generator and adding up their wattage demands.
Once you have this number, you can find high quality batteries that will store enough energy for your needs.
Flooded Lead Acid
Flooded lead acid batteries are going to be your most budget friendly option.
They are relatively cheap and last for about 5-7 years. You will have to maintain these batteries as they require you to add distilled water to equalize the charge on a monthly basis.
Also, these batteries will require the enclosure to be vented outside to expel any built up hydrogen gases.
Sealed Lead Acid
The next step up in price and quality is going to be sealed lead acid batteries.
These batteries are going to run a little more than your flooded lead acid batteries but you get more features.
The lifespan is a little shorter falling in the 3-5 year range, but you will not have to worry about maintenance.
It is recommended to vent these enclosures as gases can be emitted in certain conditions.
If you want the best of the best battery for your solar generator, I suggest investing in lithium batteries.
Lithium batteries are the standard in high performance batteries across many industries and make for a great addition to any solar generator.
While they are the most expensive option, they are also the most efficient and fastest charging of the three.
About The Inverter
To convert your solar energy to usable electricity, you are going to need a good inverter.
An inverter is a piece of equipment that you can wire on or off the grid, depending on your specific setup.
On Grid Inverters
On grid inverters are used when there is grid power available. This is going to be for use on systems where you are supplementing your current electricity.
On grid inverters concert direct current (DC) to usable alternating current (AC) to be put into your electrical power grid.
Off Grid Inverters
Off grid inverters are used as power backups when your electrical power is interrupted.
This is going to be for use on systems where you are using as an electrical replacement for when you have power outages and black outs.
Solar Generator Inverter Suggestions
When choosing the right inverter for your solar generator, you will need to determine which is best for the size of your solar array, or solar panel setup.
Your inverter will be converting all of the DC pier supplied to it, so the inverter will need to be able to handle as much energy as your solar panels can supply.
In general, your inverter should be the same size as the DC rating of your solar panel setup. For example, if you have a 6 kilowatt system, you are going to want at least a 6000 watt inverter.
Of course, this is a general suggestion and your application may vary.
Fronius Galvo 3.1-1
The Fronius Galvo 3.1-1 (click to read reviews on Amazon) is a single phase grid tied that is popular for those who are trying to supply power to their existing electrical grid.
It is built to supply up to 3100 watts continuously which will greatly help lower you dependency on your electrical company and provide you with lower electrical bills.
- Peak Efficiency: 96.00%
- CEC Efficiency: 95.50%
- Recommended PV Input (STC): 4500 Watts
- Maximum DC Input Voltage: 550.00 Volts
- Maximum DC Input Current: 20.00 Amps
- Min MPPT Voltage: 165.00 Volts
- Max MPPT Voltage: 550.00 Volts
- Number of MPPT’s: 1
- AC Voltages: 208 Volts, 240 Volts
- AC Frequencies: 60Hertz
- Continuous AC Power Output: 3100 Watts
- Min Operating Voltage: 165.00 Volts
- Max Operating Voltage: 550.00 Volt
- Positive Input Channels: 3
- Negative Input Channels: 3
SMA Solar Sunny Boy 5.0-US
For those looking for a house backup power solution, the SMA Solar Sunny Boy 5.0-US makes switching to solar power during a blackout much easier.
The industry leading services that SMA provides with their Solar Sunny Boy allow you to have peace of mind when your power goes out. Their team of professional installers will get your installed quickly and easily, or you can order it and install in yourself for the DIY installers.
- Max. Usable DC Power: 5150 W
- Max. DC Voltage: 600
- VRated MPP Voltage Range: 220 – 480
- VMPPT Operating Voltage Range: 100 – 550
- VMin. DC Voltage / Start Voltage: 100 V / 125
- VMax. Operating Input Current Per MPPT: 10 A
- Max. Short Circuit Current Per MPPT: 18 A
- Number Of MPPT Tracker / String Per MPPT Tracker: 3/1
So now that I have walked you through everything you need to know about using solar generators to power a house, you should be able to figure out exactly what you need to build or buy your own kit.
If your do not feel comfortable with wiring up your own kit, it is highly suggested that you call a professional electrician or solar generator installer.
Have you installed a solar generator? Did you buy or build your own kit? What suggestions would you give for first time builders?